How to Recover From a Financial Hangover

Can you recover from a financial hangover?
••• Betsie Van der Meer/Stone/Getty Images

Have you ever spent a lot more money than you planned? You wake up the next day or head back to work and look at your bank balance and wonder what you were thinking and how you are going to make it to your next payday. You may have a financial hangover from holiday spending or from a vacation or just a busy weekend with crazy good sales. Here are some tips to help you recover from your financial hangover.

Take Stock of Where You Are

It really helps to know what bills still need to be paid, and what expense you have left for the month. Then you can look to see if you have the money to cover them. This may include things like groceries and other daily expenses. You want to avoid using your credit card if at all possible, so it is important to know exactly where you stand financially. Balancing your account and budget should let you know where you are.

Transfer Money to Cover Your Overspending

Depending on your shopping spree, you may be able to cover a great deal of the cost just by transferring money from different categories like your entertainment, eating out, clothing or household categories. You may be able to shave down your grocery bill to help cover the costs too.

Set Up a Bare Bones Budget for the Month

If money is still tight, then you will need to set up a bare-bones budget for the month. This will limit all of your spending besides bills and groceries. It is important to save as much as you can on those, as well. Taking the time to plan a menu can help you really save money. Plan for leftovers and eat them for lunch the next day to save even more money on your total food costs. These strategies can really help you overall.

Use Your Emergency Fund

Generally, this type of spending is not an emergency, but it is better to cover the difference with your savings rather than putting it on a credit card. It is important to work to protect your savings though, and if you find yourself dipping into your emergency fund each month, you need to adjust your spending habits. Your emergency fund should be the last resort before using a credit card to get out of this financial situation.

Use a Credit Card

It is important to not rely on your credit cards, but if it comes between eating and not eating due to overspending, it is better to use your cards. This comes with strict guidelines. You should only buy what you need, and you should be on a strict grocery list. You should not eat out or spend anything on entertainment. This is to cover your most basic necessities.

Build Up Your Reserve

Prioritize your spending so that you can pay off any money that you put on your credit card and rebuild your emergency fund as quickly as possible. This should not take more than a month or two. You do not want to carry a credit card balance and pay interest. You also need your emergency fund in order to cover real emergencies like car repairs or losing your job. It should not really be used to bail you out from overspending.

Adjust Your Budget

If you notice that you tend to have issues like this after certain sales or after a vacation, you will need to adjust your budget so you do not do it again. Take the time to carefully review what you actually spend and adjust your budget categories so that you are setting aside enough money to cover those costs. Also switching to cash for sales and vacations can make a difference. If you want to use a store credit card for discounts, make payments that day with cash to pay off the cards. These steps will prevent you from needing to deal with a financial hangover again.